Mental health legislation
The Mental Health Act 2014 (MHA 2014) was passed by the Western Australian Parliament on 16 October 2014 and will replace the current Mental Health Act 1996 (MHA 1996) no earlier than late 2015. The MHA 2014 will provide for the treatment, care and support of people who have a mental illness; and for the protection of the rights of people who have a mental illness. It will provide for the recognition of the role of families and carers in providing care and support to people who have a mental illness.
Leading up to commencement, education and training for clinicians is being prepared, as well as materials for people with lived experience of mental illness and their families and carers. Transitional arrangements are also being progressed for bodies including the Mental Health Advocacy Service, the Mental Health Tribunal, and the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist.
Information sheets have been produced to provide some initial information on the mental health legislation to mental health services, patients, families and carers.
Implementation is being led by the Mental Health Commission, the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist and the Office of Mental Health. Implementation is being governed by a Mental Health Bill Implementation Reference Group.
The Reference Group is broadly represented, including people with lived experience of mental illness; families and carers; clinicians; representatives from Government departments and NGOs; and other stakeholders.
The Bill is a result of extensive consultation and submissions by stakeholders, including the 2011 Draft Bill and the 2012 Green Bill, which received over 1300 submissions, in addition to extensive Parliamentary debate.
Current Mental Health Law:
- The current mental health law in Western Australia is the MHA 1996.
- The MHA 1996 provides for treatment, care and protection of involuntary patients.
- New mental health laws were passed by Parliament in late 2014 but are not expected to officially commence before late 2015.
- Until that time, the current MHA 1996 remains in place.
When it commences, the new MHA 2014 will provide:
- New rights and increased protections for involuntary patients.
- New rights for families and carers of involuntary patients.
- Additional rights and increased protections for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
- Additional rights and increased protections for children.
- Increased access to advocacy support from a new Mental Health Advocacy Service.
- More regular review of involuntary patients by a Mental Health Tribunal.
Overview of changes the MHA 2014 will make to mental health
Below is a summary of some other key changes:
- Establishment of a Charter of Mental Health Care Principles, which encompasses a rights-based set of principles that mental health services must make every effort to comply with in providing treatment, care and support to people experiencing mental illness. It also is intended to influence the interconnected factors that facilitate recovery from mental illness.
- Establishment of a Mental Health Tribunal with increased scope to hear a number of matters, increased scope as to who has standing to initiate proceedings, shorter time frames, and the ability to pursue penalties for non-compliance with Tribunal decisions.
- Comprehensive and improved complaints process at mental health services and the Health and Disability Services Complaints Office (HaDSCO).
- Greater opportunities for the use of audio-visual communication in rural and remote areas when a face to face assessment or examination is not practicable.
- Greater role for the Chief Psychiatrist who will receive information about the use of certain kinds of treatment and for interventions such as seclusion and restraint, and will issue guidelines on a variety of issues.